She asked if I’d read her collection, The Elephant House. I was impressed by her work, and wrote her at length. “I found your book riveting in the way I find a good mystery… in which people do the unimaginable and think the unthinkable in a way that makes sense in the end and something precious is redeemed.”
Our connection deepened around shared trust. In January, 2013 Claudia asked me to blurb her second Marsh Hawk collection, Pocket Park. The book detailed changes in a tiny oasis wedged between mid-town Manhattan buildings over the course of a year. Claudia called it “an urban park pastoral with photos”, an unusual space for Zen-like meditation. I sent her my blurb in mid-May: These poems harvest remarkable observations of a threshold world with the timeless essence of a twelve bar blues.
On Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at 11:02 PM, Claudia messaged me, "So I wrote this a few minutes ago, thanks, cheers, CC."
Read a true story about a woman
who hadn't smiled in forty years
to keep her face young,
and it was, except for her eyes
where all the smiles and frowns
must have gone
think of my daughter Natalie
who has laughed more in this last year
of finding love and new career, laughed more
than the past three of her 20s
and already faint quote marks
frame her mobile lips
and as she complains five white hairs
invaded her scalp I know
her perfectly freckled gorgeous face
On October 31st Claudia promised the first draft of her book, but I didn't receive it until November 11th, with the note: "Here is the first draft that you are seeing of my Chocolate Chapbook."
Claudia had indeed "plucked process bonbons, a few a day, / from pleated paper veils," because "taste is life!" And now here they were in their "ribboned sarcophagus." It suddenly struck me that Claudia's gift merited a stronger venue than Myrmaid Press could offer. The solution came in a flash. I approached Marsh Hawk editor/publisher Sandy McIntosh with the proposal that we make this a joint venture. Sandy agreed. Marsh Hawk Press would bring out the hard copy and Myrmaid would follow with an e-book.
The challenge in the weeks that followed was to produce the book and deliver it to Claudia while she could still savor her victory. Between final proofs, and adjusting the cover color, Sandy prevailed on the printer to make room in their busy schedule. We managed to print it while Claudia was still in hospice care at home. On December 29th, five copies of My Chocolate Sarcophagus were mailed overnight. Claudia received them just before she was transferee to the hospital. I emailed Christina to confirm that we had been on time and received this reply.